Mayor Herenton stated his belief that Memphis was heading toward an impending crisis in less than two years. He pointed to consolidation as the only salvation for the City. Mayors across the country are predicting doom ...unless. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been pushing for tax hikes as the only answer to preventing the release of thousands of nonviolent criminals. The public sent him a resounding NO. The reality is this is bigger than Memphis. This Nation is in a financial crisis that has no end in sight.
What are we to do? The common answer I hear from conservatives is, "cut government spending." Well here's a little fact, much of the city dollars are out of the control of our elected officials. Be it under contract, mandated by state, negotiated through labor unions or "third-rail" funds like police or fire departments, city officials have little say in much of our expenditures.
When cut backs are made we see the results. A good example is the Rape Crisis Center which has been all over the news. When the center was unable to hire needed nurses unwise skimping occurred. Like not having staff available 24-hours, as required. The outcome people suffer. I fear as time goes on and agencies - government and nonprofits will start ripping at the seam.
At this point I guess it would be appropriate to suggest an answer to this looming crisis. Well I don’t have one. There will be no easy fix. Anyone who believes years of mismanagement can be solved in a year or two is just not being realistic. The stimulus funds being injected into our economy by President Obama - which was the right thing to do - has at best slowed down the financial meltdown. Sooner or later those dollars will have to be pulled back to prevent inflation.
No there is not a quick fix pill we can take. You, me and our children are going to face a different future than what we might have expected. Health Care, Social Security Benefits, even how we define retirement, within a decade or two will be no more. We are going to have to look at new paradigms if America is going to right itself.
The other day I was at the Frayser Festival and I spoke with a lieutenant in the Memphis Police Department and you could see the frustration in his face. He said, “We’re losing to the criminals and nobody wants to confess to it.” He was speaking about the futility of arresting an individual only to see the criminal released due to over crowded jails. “Their out of jail before we get off work,” said the lieutenant. For those who scream and join caravans to drive to Nashville and demand longer jail time for criminals, but then rail at higher taxes, I’m sorry but the complexity of the problems we are facing require creativity not knee-jerk reactions.
This Nation needs to accept that our future is going to be fundamentally different than a generation or two ago. There are not enough police officers, judges and jails to solve our crime problem. We’re going to have to take greater responsibility for our own health. Sorry Mickey D’s. We’re going to have to forget about keeping up with the Joneses, especially since they just filed for bankrupts. We can’t trust our 401(k) Plan to insure we’ll retire in Hawaii. Don't get me wrong, this is still a great Nation, but the party is over and all we’re left with is a headache. Our new mantra needs to be, “Live within your means.” Prevention management over crisis management, I’ll talk more about this in another post, will be the key to addressing much of our social problems.
So is the Mayor correct about the impending crisis? As far as I'm concern it’s already here.